This year marks the 30th anniversary of the original “Mario Bros.” videogame, and it’s no wonder that Mario is still such a popular little guy. Even your great aunt Beatrice, who claims that video games are a product of the devil, has probably at least given Mario a shot. How could you not love this dapper plumber and his equally dapper yet slimmer brother, Luigi? Their adventures are addictive and often humorous, and to get sucked into a Mario game is to control your own cartoon.
In 1983, we were introduced to the Mario Bros. in their self-titled arcade game, which has since been featured as a mini-game in such later games as “Super Mario 3” and the “Super Mario Advance” series, to name a couple. How many of us ended up in screaming matches with our friends and family as they continued to use whichever character they were controlling to jump on our heads, thereby squishing us and making us prone, when all we wanted to do was escape the incoming obstacles (be they turtles or fireballs) that were headed our way?
In 1985, the Super Mario world was updated to become the side-scroller platform we love best in the original “Super Mario Bros.,” otherwise known as “the Mario game that is nearly impossible to beat.” Thank goodness for the warp pipes, else we might never have seen those later boards that...looked exactly like the previous boards. What world are we in again? 2-1? Did we accidentally backtrack? "But wait," you cry defensively, "the later boards had more challenging enemies!"
“Super Mario Bros. 2” was released in 1988 and was re-vamped in 1993 for the “Super Mario All-Stars” collection. Here – so exciting – you could choose to be a different character from the previous defaults of Mario and Luigi. Each character came with his (or her!) own special power, save for Mario – you know, the star of the show.
Most of us chose Princess Peach, since she could hover for long periods of time and therefore get us to treasures that were otherwise out of reach. Or we'd just use her to try and land on that upstream-swimming red fish that would otherwise kill us upon contact. Toad was helpful in digging up radishes at a much faster pace, though his short stature didn't help in hard battles, and Luigi did that weird skippy, jumpy thing that was, more often than not, a hindrance rather than a help.
And then, in 1990, the U.S. saw the release of what is most often voted the be-all/end-all NES game of all-time: “Super Mario Bros. 3.” There's a reason this game still holds up today with its infinite replay value. Heck, even while reading this article you’re probably thinking about firing up that old NES and giving it another go, aren’t you?
There is just so much to love about this game. Goomba’s shoe, for instance – there was not nearly enough Goomba’s shoe in this game. Or Tanooki Mario, which most of us played just for the look of the costume. Let’s face it, it didn’t fly nearly as well as Raccoon Mario did, and just how useful was the statue feature? (Answer: not very). The worlds, and by proxy the game, were long and satisfying. The game is beatable either with or without the warp whistle, though without should probably be saved for snow days or unemployment.
The music in this game was either enjoyable or downright eerie. While you’re dancing along to the tunes of “Desert World,” you’re hoping that the creepy hand comes up to suck you down into “Dark World” so that the even creepier music track will cease to repeat. And if it doesn't, there's nothing stopping you from clicking the "A" button to proactively hightail it out of there.
And the angry sun – oh, poor angry sun – what happened in your life to make you so angry? We have to assume it was us with the way you chase us, but we don’t remember what we did, we assure you, and whatever it was, we’re very sorry.
The first three “Super Mario Bros.” games are akin to the first four seasons of the re-vamped “Doctor Who”: there have been other games since the initial three that we have also since enjoyed, but not nearly as much, and we wouldn’t actively go back for seconds. Just like your first Doctor, you never forget your first Mario game.